By JASON MOON
For Riley Sutherlin, Saturday was a first.
But Bailey Frye and Brad Sullivan were familiar with the terrain.
The three, along with 12 others, competed in the Tractors Operating Contest at the Putnam County Fair Saturday.
Frye, 11, competed on both the lawn mower and tractor courses in the junior division. He said the most difficult part of the contest was a written test.
"It was hard to match them up," Frye said.
This was Frye's second year of competing in the event. He placed second on the tractor course last year in the junior division.
He lives on a 17-acre farm with his mother Lauri Neeley and frequently drives the tractor.
"I like driving," Bailey said.
This was Sutherlin's first year competing in the event. He competed on the tractor course and said he had somewhat of a difficult time.
"I couldn't get (the tractor) in the barn," said the 9-year-old, saying the barn was too small. "But I liked driving the tractor."
Sutherlin was a third-generation contestant in the event. His father Ron and grandfather Roger, both competed.
In addition, his uncles, David and Dean, both competed. He is the son of Ron and Alana Sutherlin.
Even though this is his first year in the contest, Sutherlin lives on a farm and has driven a tractor for a few years.
Brad has been involved in the contest for 10 years. He competed in the senior division on the lawn mower course this year.
"It's really kind of fun," he said. "You see kids learning stuff. There's always a few familiar faces."
Sullivan's father and Tractor leader Kent, has been involved with the contest for 10 years. He said the event is at least 50 years old.
He said there are junior and senior divisions in both categories (lawn mower and tractor).
"Kids can sign up for either or both," he said.
Sullivan said those competing are required to take a multiple choice question test, identify parts on the lawn mower or tractor, before having to complete a timed driving course.
Grand and Reserve Champions in each division advance to a regional competition in Terre Haute. There is also a semistate division and the state finals, which takes place at the State Fair.
"The kids get into it," Sullivan said. "They compete with (others) in six or 10 counties."
Sullivan put together the driving courses with help from his son Brad and Buzzi Unicem, which provided the poles that were scattered along the courses